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State Advocacy Committee News Update

On November 21, the North Carolina American Heart Association Advocacy Coordinating Committee met to celebrate achievements, bestow advocacy honors and discuss policy priorities. The committee had much to celebrate this year including the passage of stroke center designation rules, advancement of the healthy corner store initiative legislation, and significant progress in local communities for healthy vending and tobacco control policies.

During the meeting, the committee recognized three individuals for their advocacy efforts that help advance the AHA mission.


  • The 2015 NC AHA Heart of a Friend Award was presented to Senator Don Davis for his leadership to advance HB 250/SB 296 Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act.
  • The 2015 NC AHA Heart of a Champion Award was presented to Drexdal Pratt, Director of Health Service Regulation for his work for more than a decade to promote high impact policies that save lives including the Good Samaritan laws, stroke and STEMI transport protocols, stroke center designation, and pulse oximetry screening.
  • The 2015 Dr. Robert Blackburn Award for Advocacy Excellence was presented to Valerie King for her strong leadership in You’re the Cure.

This meeting also provided time to recognize the 2014-2016 Committee for their service and install the 2016-2018 NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee. Juddson Rupp and Yolanda Dickerson will co-chair the committee for the next term. The committee works closely with AHA staff partners to provide strategic leadership for the NC AHA advocacy program and coordinates You’re the Cure activities including state lobby day.

Committee members spent time discussing the top priorities for 2016. Efforts will continue to advance HB 250/SB 296 with full funding to create a statewide healthy corner store initiative. In addition, You’re the Cure will be working to expand affordable health insurance to those caught in the coverage gap with no other options available to them. Locally efforts will continue to promote healthy vending policies local governments to ensure employees have access to healthy food choices while at work.

If you are interested in learning more about the NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee, please contact Betsy Vetter.

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Charlotte and Rachel Richey, Kentucky

Charlotte and Rachel Richey Kentucky

On May 28, 2015, Charlotte, age 4, was diagnosed with an electrical heart condition called Catecholarminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia (CPMVT). The diagnosis came after she had two incidents in which she lost consciousness and had to have CPR performed to save her life. After follow-up appointments and many tests, Charlotte was diagnosed with this condition that has no cure, but right now is maintaining very well with preventive measures. Charlotte is always at risk of v-tach, either from too much physical activity or from emotional stimulus that raises her heartbeat. She is on medication, but many preventive measures have been put into place, including CPR recertification for her parents, ensuring that other caregivers are CPR certified, and the purchase of an AED that stays in the home or travels with her.

Charlotte is a very lively little girl who does not meet a stranger and is full of personality. It is hard to slow her down, but it is necessary at times because of the possible risk of v-tach. She did not exhibit any symptoms prior to her first incident, which at that time was diagnosed as a concussion. Luckily, with persistence and recommended testing, we were able to find answers, even if it was difficult to process. We are very confident in her care and the precautions that we are taking, but it would offer great peace of mind if more individuals were CPR trained and could offer a quick response if a problem did present itself.

--Rachel Richey, mom to Charlotte

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2016 Is the Year We Make KY No. 28: Register Now for KY Advocacy Day on Feb 9th!

Now is the perfect time to register and make plans to join us for Kentucky Advocacy Day: You're the Cure at the Capitol. Join others from across the state as we meet with lawmakers in support of heart-health policies, like ensuring all Kentucky students are trained in lifesaving hands-only CPR.

Twenty-seven states now have policies in place to ensure all students are trained in hands-only CPR. Your voice on February 9th can help make Kentucky No. 28!

Arrival/Check-in: 8:30-9 am in Capitol Annex (Room TBD)
Issue Overview/Q&A: 9-9:30 am
Scheduled Meetings With Lawmakers: 9:30 am - 1 pm (Lunch in Capitol Cafeteria at your convenience)
Media Event in Capitol Rotunda: 1-1:30 pm

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY and then watch your inbox for more information as the event nears!

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Advocate Highlight- Heidi Stewart

Hi my name is Heidi. I might look like your average college student but what you can’t tell just from looking at me is that I am a survivor.

Growing up I was very active. I began competitive swimming at 8 years old. Everything seemed fine until my junior year of high school. The first sign that something was wrong was when I passed out after a swim meet. My parents took me to the doctor to see what could have caused me to pass out and after seeing a specialist and undergoing many tests I was diagnosed with anxiety.

My dad suffers from anxiety as well so he taught me how to deal with it and how to control the attacks. But on February 12, 2013 my life changed forever. I woke up tired but headed to school anyways. I began feeling weak and thought an anxiety attack might be starting so I spoke with my first period teacher who knew about my attacks and he gave me a pass to go to the library to study. I don’t remember what happened in my second period class. Third period was my leadership class and I really did not feel well at this point. I remember feeling worse and worse as the day went on. Knowing I needed help I headed to the school office. I barely made it before collapsing just inside the door.

Thankfully my school had an AED and within moments CPR was being administered and the AED was being used. The administration, security guard, and school nurse performed CPR for 10 minutes, and shocked me 3 times with the AED.

After I arrived at the hospital and they stabilized me, the emergency room staff proceeded to perform an ECG but found nothing wrong. They sent me to have an MRI to see if there was any brain damage; during the full body MRI is where they found the problem.

They had found a large sum of scar tissue on the bottom right ventricle of my heart which is a sure sign of Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia/ Cardiomyopathy (ARVD/C for short).  ARVD is a form of cardiomyopathy in which the heart muscle of the right ventricle (RV) is replaced by fat and/or fibrous tissue. The right ventricle is dilated and contracts poorly. As a result, the ability of the heart to pump blood is weakened.

On February 14th, 2013 they placed an Internal Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD) into my chest. It works as a pacemaker and a defibrillator in the case of emergency. I am also on two heart medications: a beta blocker and an antiarrhythmic/ beta blocker.

Since that day I have made many adjustments. At one of my first follow-up appointments I was handed a list of physical activities that I could no longer do. I love to be active and thankfully have found new ways to remain active without putting my life at risk.

The American Heart Association funds life-saving research; research that saved my life and the lives of so many others.

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Nutrition On the Go Can Be Easy!

On November 4th, we celebrated National Eating Healthy Day to encourage everyone to resolve to eat healthy. We know eating healthy meals in an on-the-go lifestyle can be quite the challenge.  So how can we make sure we are making smart choices? 

With holiday parties around the corner and all of the other great things that come between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, is it possible to keep the resolve to eat healthy? Did you know the American Heart Association has heart healthy recipes on our website that you can enjoy? For instance check out this tailgate chili recipe for the next time you are planning that ballgame viewing party!  What a way to make your next gathering more nutritiously delicious.

This is just one example, and you can find more in our heart healthy guide to seasonal eating here!

Finally, we have an idea for you!

We often say that you should be building the relationship with your lawmaker. Consider inviting your lawmaker to join you in the journey to overall better health. Simply take a moment to send them your favorite AHA recipe, and add a few sentences about your why you are making healthy eating a priority. Maybe your lawmaker will feature that recipe in an upcoming newsletter!

If you need help to find your lawmakers, contact your Grassroots Director and she will be happy to share that information with you! If you are in DC, Maryland, or Virginia, contact Keltcie Delamar, and if you are in the Carolinas, email Kim Chidester!

We wish everyone happy, heart-healthy eating!

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Kristin Salvi, New York

My name is Kristin Salvi and I am the newest member of the Government Relations team in New York! I look forward to the opportunity to champion our policy goals related to the prevention of heart disease and stroke.  Coming from doing advocacy work for the New York State Nurses Association, and most recently working for the state of New York, my background includes advocating for public health issues such as the CPR in Schools law, sugary sweetened beverage (SSB) tax bills, childhood obesity prevention programs, and many other important campaigns. I am excited to join with all of you here at the American Heart Association because I value the great work the organization has achieved on tobacco control, the healthy food and active living initiatives, access to care, and many other important public health topics.


As a new staff member of the American Heart Association, I've been learning about our platform, "Life is Why." (To learn more, click here.)  Being a relatively new mom of almost three year old twins, they are my 'why.' I want my kids to grow up in a world where receiving quality physical education in schools in the norm, healthy food is accessible to all regardless of where you live,  everyone has access to quality health care regardless of income, and everyone can live and breathe in a smoke-free environment. Although I may be aiming high, my reason for being so passionate on these issues is to make the world a better place for them. I look forward to working with all of you on all of the good stuff we are planning to do in the future!

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Anne Efron

Anne Efron, Maryland

Following a long day at work Anne Efron and her husband Dave were getting set to grill for dinner.  After making a quick trip to the store Dave returned to find Anne unconscious and without a pulse, in full cardiac arrest. She had a history of what had been diagnosed as benign cardiac dysrhythmia. Dave, who is Director of Adult Trauma, and Chief of the Division of Acute Care Surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, immediately began CPR and dialed 911.  One of the questions that rang in his mind was this: how long had her brain and other organs been without oxygen before he arrived?

Dave continued performing CPR until EMS arrived about 10 minutes later and took over.  Only after transport to St. Joseph’s in Towson, the closest facility, and eight attempts at “shocking” did Anne’s heart resume “normal rhythm.”  Her heart was badly stunned and her condition continued to worsen.  Her medical team determined that the care Anne needed to survive was beyond the scope of St. Josephs. To stabilize her enough to make the trip, the Interventional Cardiologist at St. Joe’s skillfully placed a balloon pump in her heart. 

Once arriving at John’s Hopkins, Anne spent sixteen days in the Coronary Care Unit.  After the extraordinary care of the first responders, the care she received at St. Joe’s and the cutting-edge mechanical support techniques and critical medical care she received in one of the top hospitals in the world, she was able to walk out of the hospital and returned to work just five weeks after her cardiac arrest. 

Anne got involved with the American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure grassroots network, and advocated actively for a Maryland Bill which would make CPR and defibrillator training a graduation requirement in Maryland public high school.  That bill became law in 2014.   Anne states “CPR is a simple lifesaving skill and one that gives those with this skill a “sense of empowerment.  Learning CPR will save many lives.” 

Click here to Be CPR Smart:









<Thanks to YTC advocate/volunteer writer Karen Wiggins, LPN, CHWC, for helping craft this story>

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Marc Kutler - Saving Lives with CPR and AED Awareness

If there is one thing Marc Kutler does well, its saving lives. And he thinks more people should too.

Marc, an ER doc at Northwestern Medical Center, has a passion for encouraging a strong chain of survival. He oversaw the CPR and AED training at The Edge fitness centers that led to five lives saved.

He also helped the American Heart Association pass legislation in 2012 requiring Hands-only CPR training at Vermont high schools as part of comprehensive health education.

Now he’s working with the AHA again to make sure schools are following through with the CPR training and that more Vermont cities and towns become Heart Safe Communities – working in a coordinated effort to ensure the best chance of survival for cardiac arrest.

Help us in this effort by sharing the Heart Safe Community information packet below with your town’s leaders.

(Please visit the site to view this file)

And make sure your school is teaching CPR to help create a new generation of life savers. The Info sheets below make it easy!

(Please visit the site to view this file)

(Please visit the site to view this file)

Help us in our fight to save lives and you can be a lifesaver too!

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Come & Get it: "Hands on Heart" CPR Training for DC Residents

Along with AHA and other partners, Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser launched the “Hands on Hearts” initiative on October 27, which aims to train 5,000 District residents in hands-only CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators (AED) by September 2016.  

“With the right training, anyone can save a life,” said Mayor Bowser. “That is why the District is committed to training residents in life-saving, hands-only CPR.  A 20 minute training could make the difference between life and death for a friend, family member or stranger who needs care before emergency medical services are able to respond.”

DC Department of Fire & EMS Sgt. Mike Forrest, a You’re the Cure advocate and FEMS CPR Training Coordinator, expressed at the launch event that he is “so excited” about hands-only CPR. “I love this stuff, I just love teaching CPR.” For Forrest, CPR is very personal. Last year, his grandfather went into cardiac arrest, and the person that was with his grandfather didn’t know CPR. Forest wants DC to be the safest place. He envisions a community where “any citizen, passer-by, [visitor] or [traveler] will stop, call 911, and do hands-only CPR.” Forrest emphasized to the mayor and DC Council that “if you don’t get anything else out of the day, just remember that doing good compressions is what’s [going to] save someone’s life.”

Hands-only CPR is a technique promoted by AHA that involves chest compressions without artificial respiration. Studies indicate that hands-only CPR performed immediately can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival. Following the launch presentation, Sgt. Forrest and his FEMS colleagues provided hands-only CPR training to Mayor Bowser, all 13 members of the DC Council, and other governmental leaders.

In addition to this event, DC Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie and his staff recently received CPR training. At the Hands on Hearts launch, he encouraged his fellow Councilmembers to do the same. CM McDuffie chairs the Council’s Judiciary committee, which is considering a bill that would require every school in Washington, DC to have at least 1 AED on site, along with CPR/AED training for certain staff. (View the bill, which AHA recommends be amended to require CPR training for all high school students).

Equipping citizens to save a life makes sense.  As McDuffie said, “…every second matters” during a cardiac arrest.

CPR is an essential life skill, and it saves lives!  Send a quick message to your legislators and tell them to join more than half the country by teaching CPR in DC Schools.
















Mayor Muriel Bowser, DC Council and advocates discuss the need for CPR training

<Special thanks to our DC YTC intern Sydney Nelson for developing this blog post> 

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Michael Flynn, Pennsylvania

Michael Flynn Pennsylvania

On March 23, 2015, Michael Flynn was working in the city of Philadelphia when he went into full cardiac arrest at the VA Administration Building. A co-worker secured the site and they found a nurse in the building that started CPR. An AED was used on Michael two times. Medics quickly arrived and transported him to Temple University  Hospital. Michael had just turned 35 at the end of February, has a 3 year old daughter, Della, and his wife Julia was pregnant and due in May. He said he didn’t feel well, but other than that, there were no signs or symptoms. 

Michael awoke at Temple University Hospital. Doctors did a heart catheterization and found 100% blockage on the lower left side. He spent his first week in the hospital heavily sedated while on a breathing machine before his stent went into place. Among his visitors at the hospital was his supervisor who told him that, “everyone should be trained in CPR.” 

Michael was released from the hospital approximately two weeks later, has finished six weeks of cardiac rehab and is now back to work. There was damage to his heart and he is still working to get his heart rate up to where it should be. In the meantime, he welcomed his son, Cade, into the world in May 2015, and he is committed to a healthy lifestyle so that he will be around a long time for his family.

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